The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided Friday that Will Smith will be banned from going to the Oscars for the next decade as a consequence for hitting Chris Rock on stage during the March 27 ceremony.
The Academy’s Board of Governors said Smith’s actions were “unacceptable and harmful,” in a statement.
“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” Smith said in a statement. He had already resigned from the academy last week, and said he would accept any punishment that was handed down.
The news led “Oscars for 10” and “Will Smith for 10” to start trending on Twitter
on Friday afternoon as online readers reacted to the news.
Queries about whether Smith can still win an Oscar also surged on Google
after the 10-year ban was announced. While the academy didn’t elaborate whether Smith can still be nominated for Academy Awards, two industry figures told the New York Times that Smith is indeed still eligible to win Oscars, but he wouldn’t be allowed to attend the Academy Awards ceremony and other academy events.
Since he can still win Academy Awards, some people who read the news online felt the punishment was a mere slap on the wrist.
But while many of Smith’s fellow actors and comedians have condemned “the slap,” as it came to be called, the overwhelming response to the punishment on Twitter on Friday afternoon was that a 10-year ban was a disproportionate response to the incident.
Many pointed out the even more problematic histories of other Tinseltown elites, such as accusations of sexual misconduct that have been made against producer Harvey Weinstein, for example, or Mel Gibson’s past anti-Semitic remarks. (Although it should be noted that Weinstein has been expelled from the academy.)
“Will Smith should not have gone on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face,” tweeted one viewer. “HOWEVER banning him from the Oscars for 10 years is stupid and the Academy is a garbage organization run by enablers of far worse abuses than an open handed slap between two guys with a history.”
Columnist Wajahat Ali called the punishment “extreme & unnecessary.”
And then there were the jokes. “Will Smith being banned from the Oscars for 10 years is hilarious because the Academy actually thinks people will be watching it in 10 years time,” mused one Twitter user, referencing how Oscar ratings have been plummeting for years.
Others cracked wise about some of Smith’s recent movie roles, or the academy’s bait-and-switch for still awarding him an Oscar after the slap — but then banning him from the ceremony for the next 10 years.